Monday, June 27, 2016

Demoted or PromotedActs 6:1-15
Philip: Wow, I am so happy to be selected as one of the men to serve food to the Greek widows. along with Stephen, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.  We are freeing up all of the apostles so they can dedicate themselves to prayer and preaching.
Nicanor: You’re right.  It’s a great honor to serve the Lord in this capacity.  When the apostles prayed and laid hands on us, James laid his hands on my shoulder.
Parmenas: I’ve never had a lot of experience being a waiter or a cook and providing food for a group of women before.  But, I look forward to serving and it was a great experience when Peter placed his hand on me and prayed.
Stephen: I’m not experienced in that line of work either, but it is a good work and someone was needed to do it.  In my off time though, I’ve been going to the synagogue and discussing Jesus with the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia.  I’m not sure how things are going to go, but since we have the Holy Spirit, they can’t answer the arguments He inspires me to present.
Nicolas: Stephen, I’d be careful when you go back to speak to those folks.  I’ve heard some rumblings from them and they aren’t very encouraging!
Procorus: I admire you Stephen, and you too Philip, for your ability to proclaim God’s word.
Philip: Yes, although waiting on tables is a work of the Lord, I hope the opportunity will arise so I too can share the gospel with others.  I’ve been thinking about the Samaritans.
Timon: I understand there is a Jew from Tarsus by the name of Saul who has been making threats against those who follow Jesus.
Stephen: Yes, I understand he will be in the synagogue the next time I speak.

Acts 7:1-60
Timon: Have you heard?  Our countrymen have murdered Stephen!  Saul was there and gave his vote to take Stephen’s life.  Saul is taking charged of a mob who are going house to house to arrest Jesus believers.  I understand that most, if not all followers of the Way, are leaving Jerusalem until things settle down here.
Philip: I’ve been looking for an opportunity to preach.  I think I will go to Samaria and speak.

Acts 8:26-25
Simon the former sorcerer: Philip, I understand the Spirit wants you to go to a deserted place in Gaza?  Are you sure it’s the Spirit speaking to you?  You’ve got a great ministry right here.  Even the apostles Peter and John came down to help.  Why in the world do you want to leave from a place where you can speak to hundreds and hundreds of people and go to a place where there will be few if anyone?  Are you getting your priorities right?
Philip: The Spirit is leading me to go to that deserted area.
Simon the former sorcerer: Look, you were ordained to be a waiter, but the Lord lead you to come here to do this wonderful and glorious work rather than remain in Jerusalem.  You are where the Lord wants you!  Why listen to voices, that may not be the Holy Spirit, and demote yourself from helping hundreds of people to maybe preaching to no one?  You are successful here and have a good reputation.  Why give up all that to be disappointed in the desert and end up with a lot less results than you would have by staying here?  Doesn’t it make good, common sense to stay where you are needed and are successful?

Acts 8:26-39
The eunuch: Lord, I’m reading Your Word, but I’m having a hard time understanding the prophet’s message.  Help me to understand.  I wonder who that fellow is running from the north back behind me?
Philip: Do you understand what you’re reading?

How many of us would consider Philip’s first work to be a dead end job with no real future to it, rather than a blessing from God?  How many of us would understand that God is using it as a stepping stone to open our eyes to talents we have yet to recognized?  How many of us would believe God wanted us to go to an out of the way location to meet one individual, when we were bringing hundreds to the Lord where we are?  How many of us would see that trip as a demotion rather than a spiritual promotion?  So often, we ask God for a mountain and He blesses us with a small bump and we fail to see His glory written all over it?  Did Philip waste his time with one person when he could have continued being successful enriching the lives of thousands?  Philip could have viewed Gaza as a failure, but did the eunuch?  Did God?

Do you believe God is active in your life?  Active in the trips you take to those deserted Gaza locations?

* Yes, most of the dialogue above is not found in our Bible.  I’m looking at human nature and using that process to hopefully cause us to search our hearts and see how we would react if we were in Philip, Simon, or the eunuch’s shoes.